'Selfish' driver caused fatal Syd pile-up

·2-min read

A driver who caused a catastrophic pile-up on Sydney's M4 and the death of a tradesman showed a "selfish disregard" for other motorists, a judge has found.

Francis Omigie, 55, was found guilty by a jury of dangerous driving occasioning death, and failing to stop and assist in May 2019.

His "inconsistent" versions as to why he suddenly stopped in front of a car and then attempted to merge across five lanes of near peak-hour traffic were laid out by Judge Jane Culver in the District Court on Wednesday.

The judge dismissed one story of mechanical faults causing him distraction as a lie and said his manoeuvres were a belated attempt to avoid a toll by exiting the major arterial road as he often did en route to work.

Irishman Francis Shanley, 36, was on his way to work when he died in the crash involving at least eight cars and a truck at the Church Street off-ramp in Mays Hill.

About 200 metres of debris was also left sprawled along the motorway.

The part-time electrical trades assistant failed to stop and help, saying he had no idea of what had occurred behind him and only found out the next day from his wife.

But witness accounts of the "extremely loud noise," including one who said the crash sounded like metal "louder than a demotion derby," prompted the judge to believe Omigie heard something of the calamity.

"He actually knew when he left the scene that his car was involved in impact of such enormity that he must of known death or grievous bodily harm was occasioned," she said.

She also rejected the notion that his text message about 25 minutes after the crash to his wife about "three near misses," and "I better move on with my life before I end up dead," were purely coincidental.

However, the truck driver carrying about 130 beer kegs who ran over Mr Shanley's ute that was stationary at the time, did not leave adequate distance to allow enough time to stop, the court found.

Other aggravating factors include Omigie failing to heed repeated warning signs of loud horns and flashing lights from another driver while dangerously merging.

Omigie's lawyer Rajiv Baldeo said he had shown genuine remorse after expressing heartbreak and devastation over his actions.

This included a handwritten letter to Mr Shanley's Australian fiancee, Broc Nicholson.

A statement by Ms Nicholson expressed how she was no longer the same person after the tragedy completely transformed her life.

Judge Culver will finish her sentencing of Omigie on Thursday morning.

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